The weekly meeting of Dallas County commissioners ended early and abruptly Tuesday when Commissioner John Wiley Price and audience members got into a shouting match.
The speakers were criticizing Price's role in Bruce Sherbet's resignation as county elections administrator. A speaker called Price "the chief mullah of Dallas County."
A mullah usually defined as an educated Muslim trained in religious law and doctrine.
Price, the county's sole black commissioner, took offense at the term and asked, "Why are all the speakers white?" The audience shouted back, and Price told them to "go to hell."
As the shouting escalated, bailiffs stepped in and cleared the room.
Price later told KRLD-AM of Dallas that he was bound to respond to being called a "mullah" in that context, which he thought to be racist and that he was not sorry for his remarks. When asked by the host if two wrongs make a right, Price said there weren't two wrongs, "there was one and there was a response."
Price issued the following statement to the media following the incident.
In the absence of a fair and balanced media outlet in Dallas, I wanted to submit a statement that offers my perspective of an “encounter” that took place at Dallas County today. Unfortunately, my comments were broadcasted without the benefit and the full context which they were made.
I have been patient and accommodating in every regard as it pertains to the recent resignation of a Dallas County employee. There are laws and business practices in place that govern the discussion of personnel matters and I will honor and respect them. I even went as far as to grant a candid one-on-one interview with the Dallas Morning News and have done countless interviews with others.
However, in open court today, after every considerate attempt to discuss the matter further, one of the speakers shot off a racial slur. “Chief Moolah” has its roots in a slang that was used against Italian immigrants and was later used by the same to defame or discredit African Americans. The speaker continued to use terms like “tribal” and his intent to make race an issue was obvious. “Nigger” is “Nigger,” spoken overtly or incognito.
My history and record will reflect that I am one whose tolerance is limited or non-existent when it comes to racial slurs. The comments were bad enough, but to have them hurled by a member of the Tea Party, known for their racial insensitivity, was more than I plan to absorb.
This is in no way an attempt to apologize to those with who felt the need to infuse race into an otherwise orderly meeting. But all of my friends, black, white and brown alike, are well aware that I am always willing to debate, but never at the expense of my race and my heritage.